Published on November 21, 2017

The Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

The Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

The Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Community volunteers for Women’s Hospital have hand made knitted “pumpkin caps” for all babies for this Thanksgiving holiday. Cone Health OB/GYN, Carolyn Harraway-Smith, MD and Cone Health pediatrician, Kaye Gable, MD, took this time to share some of the surprising health benefits of eating pumpkin.

  • The number one benefit from eating pumpkins is healthy vision and eye health. Pumpkins have high levels of beta-carotene. This gives the pumpkin its color and it turns into Vitamin A in the body.
  • Vitamin A also plays a role in bone growth, which is important for infants, children and adolescents. Don’t feed to infants until after 6 months old.
  • Pumpkins are a decent source of fiber, and is low on the glycemic index.
  • Introducing healthy foods early in your child’s diet can pay big dividends in their eating habits later in life.
  • Pregnant mothers need to make healthy food choices during the holidays. Pumpkins are a good source of folate, which can help prevent birth defects if consumed while pregnant.
  • The number one benefit from eating pumpkins is healthy vision and eye health. Pumpkins have high levels of beta-carotene. This gives the pumpkin its color and it turns into Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A also plays a role in reproductive health and immune system health.
  • It's a good source of potassium, which helps with blood pressure and therefore heart health as well as muscle health.
  • It's a good source of Vitamin C, which aids in the growth and repair of tissues such as wound healing.

Looking for a way to incorporate pumpkin into your diet? You can put pumpkin into oatmeal, pancakes, soups or pasta dishes. Here is one of Cone Health dietitian Kate Watt's favorite pumpkin recipes.

Cranberry Flax Pumpkin Bread

Canola oil spray
½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup ground flaxseed
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup 100% apple juice
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat 8x4 loaf pan with canola oil spray.

In a large bowl, combine whole-wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, flaxseed, sugar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisk in pumpkin, canola oil, applesauce, apple juice, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Stir in dried cranberries.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until all dry ingredients are incorporated into the batter. Do not beat or overmix.

Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan and continue cooling on the rack.

Makes 12 servings.

Per serving: 206 calories, 8g total fat (<1g saturated fat), 33 g carbohydrates, 4g protein, 3g dietary fiber, 221mg sodium.

About the Authors

Carolyn Harraway-Smith Carolyn Harraway-Smith, MD, is an obstetrician and gynecologist for Center for Women’­s Healthcare and serves as Chief of Service for OB/GYN medical staff.

Kaye Gable Kaye Gable, MD, is a pediatrician at Cone Health and the Program Director of the Cone Health Pediatric Teaching Program